Posted by Jaclyn Skurie on August 14, 2013:
The biodiversity of Earth as we know it is made up of millions of species—from Baobab trees to narwhals to tiny anemones attached to the ocean floor. But can we think of Earth in a holistic way, as one living entity of its own, instead of the sum of its parts?
This is what John Nelson illustrates in “Breathing Earth,” two animated GIFs he designed to visualize what a year’s worth of Earth’s seasonal transformations look like from outer space. Nelson—a data visualizer who works for software company IDV Solutions—stitched together from NASA’s website 12 cloud-free satellite photographs taken each month over the course of a year. Once the images were put together in a sequence, the mesmerizing animations showed what Nelson describes as “the annual pulse of vegetation and land ice.” (See: “Striking GIFs of Our Breathing Earth.”)
As the climate changes, the planet comes alive. Earth appears to breathe when ice cover grows and melts—in and out, in and out.
“I expected the poles to creep down and encompass lots of the northern hemisphere and I expected the change between green and dry, green and dry,” Nelson said.
“I expected there not to be much change in the southern hemisphere, and this [GIF] illustrates that change,” he added. “But when it came to life in front of me, I still had this ‘Gee, shucks,’ kind of moment.” (Related: “Earth’s Green Places Mapped in High Resolution.”)
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